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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights


Country Profile

Nigeria is a federal republic composed of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. In 2019, citizens re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress party to a second four-year term. Legislative elections were also held in 2019. Most independent observers agreed the elections were credible despite logistical challenges, localized violence, and some irregularities.

The Nigeria Police Force, which reports to the Ministry of Police and is overseen by the Police Service Commission, is the primary civilian law enforcement agency and enjoys broad jurisdiction throughout the country. The Ministry of Interior also conducts security and law enforcement activities. The Department of State Services, which reports to the national security advisor in the Office of the President, is responsible for counterintelligence, internal security, counterterrorism, and surveillance, as well as protection of senior government officials. The Nigerian Armed Forces, which reports to the minister of defense, also shares domestic security responsibilities in the case of insufficient capacity and staffing of domestic law enforcement agencies or as ordered by the president. Many states, in response to increased violence, insecurity, and criminality that exceeded the response capacity of government security forces, utilized local “security” vigilante forces. These local forces usually reported to the state governor. Civilian authorities did not always maintain effective control over the security services. There were reports members of the security forces committed numerous abuses.

The insurgency in the North East region by the militant terrorist groups Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa continued. The terrorist groups conducted numerous attacks on government and civilian targets, resulting as of year’s end in thousands of deaths and injuries, numerous human rights abuses, widespread destruction, the internal displacement of more than two million persons, and the external displacement of an estimated 332,000 refugees to neighboring countries.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful and arbitrary killings; forced disappearances; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious abuses in a conflict, including reportedly unlawful or widespread civilian deaths or harm, enforced disappearances or abductions, torture, and physical abuses or punishment; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence or threats against journalists, and enforcement of criminal libel and blasphemy laws to limit expression; serious government corruption; lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence, including domestic or intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child, early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, and other forms of such violence; instances of coerced abortion or forced sterilization; enforcement of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and the existence of the worst forms of child labor.

The government took steps to investigate, punish, and prosecute alleged human rights abuses and corruption by officials, but impunity for such abuses and corruption remained a problem.

Nonstate actors committed arbitrary and unlawful killings, disappearances, physical abuse, and other mistreatment. Boko Haram-inspired terrorist groups and the Islamic State in West Africa continued attacks on civilians, military, police, humanitarian, and religious targets; recruited and forcefully conscripted child soldiers; and carried out scores of attacks on population centers in the North East region and in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Abductions by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa continued. Both groups subjected many women and girls to gender-based violence, including forced marriages, sexual slavery, and rape. The government investigated attacks by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa and took steps to counter the growth of the insurgency. Individuals believed to be associated with the Eastern Security Network, the armed wing of the separatist group the Indigenous People of Biafra, staged attacks on security personnel, civilians, and government offices, including police stations in the South East region. Criminal gangs killed civilians and conducted mass kidnappings that particularly targeted school-age children in the North West region.

For Further Reference

Full U.S. Department of State Human Rights Country Report
U.S. Department of State International Religious Freedom Country Report
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Annual Report Chapter on Tajikistan
U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report Country Narrative
Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review
Human Rights Watch World Report Country Chapter
Amnesty International Annual Report Country Chapter
Freedom House Freedom in the World Country Report


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